Headaches

Headaches happen to everyone at one time or another. The head is one of the most common sites of pain in the body. The pain can be isolated to a certain location or move across the head from one point to another. It can be in the form of a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation or just dull ache lasting from hours to even a few days. A headache is technically defined as a pain coming from the head or upper neck of the body.

The types of headaches are classified as primary, secondary or cranial neuralgias, facial pain or other headaches. A primary headache is not the symptom of an underlying issue, but just a problem caused by over activity of pain-sensitive structures in your head. They can be triggered by lifestyle factors like stress, changes in sleep or nutrition. There are several types of primary headaches:

  • Tension headaches are the most common, and occur more in women than men. The cause is not always understood but it is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head.
  • Migraine headaches affect children and adults. It is an intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head. It also can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Cluster headache is a rare type of primary headache and it is one of the most painful. It normally affects men in their late 20s and occurs in cyclical patterns or clusters.

Secondary headaches are those caused by an underlying issue with the head or neck. It includes a wide range of medical conditions from dental to sinus to infections. This category also includes traumatic headaches like post-concussion headaches.

The final type is cranial neuralgia which describes inflammation of one of the 12 nerves that supply the motor and sensation function of the head and neck.

A headache is often not something to be concerned about or see your doctor. However, see a doctor if the headache is accompanied by:

  • Confusion or trouble understanding speech
  • Fainting
  • High fever
  • Trouble seeing or walking
  • Numbness, weakness or paralysis

Also, see your doctor if you experience headaches more frequently than usual or if they become more severe. If the headache interferes with your normal activities and worsen with over-the-counter drugs, you should also make an appointment with your doctor.